Archive | January, 2014

The Woman On Top Of Beverly Hills: A Tribute

23 Jan

This morning I woke at 6:30, and rolled down on the yoga mat to stretch. My post-surgery scar-tissued hip and funky lower back  hurt when I wake up. Middle age. Then I opened the blinds to the sun rising, a perfect blue sky, the banana palm leaves crowding the view.  I allowed myself a full glass of pomegranate juice with my toast. You know you’re living in Beverly Hills when what you allow yourself is a glass of pomegranate juice, and hope the people walking by aren’t looking in, thinking Reallly? A whole glass of that sugary stuff?

It was a celebratory gesture for me– my year anniversary of living in L.A!  I remembered last January: exhausted after a nine-hour drive from Flagstaff, miraculously finding a parking space on Reeves Drive, and walking up the brick steps to my new apartment. Natasha was in the window of her across-the-hall-place, drinking red wine and tapping on her computer. And then she saw my wanly smiling face. Arriving at a new chapter (still didn’t know it would be anything but a 6-month visit) with a friend I’d known since we were 13. We squealed. There’s a blog about that, of course.

After the stretching, the juice, the toast to myself  for showing signs of finding a new life, I started my walk to the juicery. I passed the Beverly Wilshire where people were sipping coffee and eating croissants on the outdoor patio; several limousines purred in anticipation. As I started to walk up Rodeo, I noticed many more people out on the street than usual. At 7:45, it’s just me, the window-washers, and one guy who looks like Larry King, walking his little dog, and smoking a cigar. But today many, many people–black, white, Mexican-American, formal and casual–were all staring up.

So I looked. On Rodeo, when people are outside staring, it is about celebrity. They heard about a shoot with Nicolle Kidman. They heard that Kim K is getting her nails done on Camden. They heard that Obama is at the Wilshire (All True, Dear Reader.) But this was looking was *up*, not around. So I tilted my face toward the sky and  saw a cartoon shape of a woman on the top of the Camden Medical Center–the tallest building in Beverly Hills, black glass, all symmetry and precision. Her  female figure, like one of the pink Picasso women with big hips and thick middle was fluid, flailing, waving her arms and swinging her legs. The body–full and soft, so NOT Beverly Hills–was rounding that square corner. Her body seemed to defy  the sharpness, the tweezed eyebrows, the skinny butt, the perfect edge of Beverly Hills’ femininity.

Phone cameras were out. Cars were stopped. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was late for work, and ran to the juicery. For hours we all talked about her–the women who worked next door at the make-up salon, the guys from the art gallery. My manager went out to look several times. I wanted to, but I’d already seen her, and I told everyone “I think they’ll get her down.” The cops were everywhere, a ten-block area cordoned off.  But I was wrong.

Before I knew I was wrong, a well-dressed man in his fifties came in, saying that “the whole office is sick.” They worked directly across from the building where she was. He could see her. I asked him how he thought she could have gotten onto the rooftop.  “Those doors are always unlocked,” he said. So!  That Hollywood scene on the roof that seems unlikely if not ridiculous–was actually viable. If you wanted to kill yourself.

I asked, “Can you see her face? What does she seem like? Is she talking? Does she seem like she’s mentally capable, or disturbed?” “I have a telescope,” he explained. “She’s in her sixties and she’s naked except for a big white towel around her middle, which she keeps re-arranging–as if she wants to look pretty.” I did not ask why he had a telescope in his office. “She’s had a lot of work done,” he said, drinking his Green 2 Juice. “I think she’s had plastic surgery in the last few days–black eyes, recent red scar lines on her jaw.” Less than an hour later, I heard that she jumped and died.

I finished my hours at the juicery, and on my way home walked past the spot where she died.

naked suicide

I don’t want to make up a narrative that isn’t about this woman’s real life, real pain, her desperate last act. But I hope she will  forgive me if I make a connection between what is now in my neighborhood being referred to as “The Naked Suicide,” and a cultural environment where youth is fetish-ized, where angular and lean is the only sexy, and where men have telescopes in their offices.

Goodbye to the woman who flailed and wiggled and imposed her flesh on a place of rigid fear. You held us hostage; and you dominated the sky. Goodbye.


Miss LonelyHearts’ Guide to Match.Com Or, “Like You, He’s Desperate!”

15 Jan

Miss LonelyHeartsIn case you haven’t had the pleasure of joining Match.Com, I am here to tell you how it works. And how it doesn’t.

The online dating service connects you to other people’s “profiles”  according to key shared characteristics. Like this: “You’re both dog lovers and non-smokers!” Or, “You both (claim) to exercise five times a week!”

Every  day one gets a message alerting one to a possible match, based on profound similarities: “You share a birthday month!” After years of trying to make relationships work on the basis of similar values, perspectives, lived experience, and physical chemistry,  Match teaches me to lighten up and go with the essential things:”Like you, he eats, sleeps, and defecates!”

dragonAt least *this* profile includes a photo. Imagine reaching out to someone for a date when you don’t know what they look like. BUT, then again, “Like you, he digs dining out!”

I’m something of an old-hand at Match.  Have I no shame, Dear Reader? First I admitted to getting injections in my face to look younger. . .and now to regularly having used an on-line dating service. (Not to mention defecating.)

Back in upstate New York, a good number of MatchMen profiles provide a standard shot:  Shirtless On Porch.  In L.A.,  standard shot:  Suit By Porsche. Here’s what both upstate New York and L.A. MatchMen share: whether they exercise once or seven times a week, whether they be Buddhist, Atheist, Spiritual But Not Religious,  Religious But Not Spiritual, or Other, no matter which income bracket they purport to be in, no matter whether Divorced, Separated, Never Married, Master Of Harem Looking For Fresh Subservience, or Other, they all: “don’t want drama” and “have no baggage.”

No baggage? To paraphrase Jake in The Sun Also Rises, “I distrust all good and simple people whose stories hold together.”  I choose guys who admit to a little baggage.  And mostly, my dates have been nice, smart, interesting men. One eventually turned out to be weird. . .but this is a family show so I can’t go into details. (Suffice to say, a man who references the Donner Party’s diet repeatedly during particular circumstances has missed out on certain rules of decorum.)

So, being on Match can be exhilarating–wow, in his profile this guy seems witty, smart, handsome, and employed!

It is also tricky–the morning after my date with Witty Smart Handsome Employed, I see he’s on Match. We had a great date and twelve hours later he’s  looking at other profiles. Ouch. Wait, why am *I* on Match after our date. . .? And does he see that I’m online?.  Will he think that I didn’t  like him, or that I am generally fickle, or that I am checking to see whether he’s on Match again? Am I?

But I shouldn’t worry–after all, we both “enjoy networking!”

I’m close to quitting, but keep thinking:  just one more day, one more profile. Before I join a Twelve-Step Match Recovery Group, I want to offer a few biased suggestions to MatchMen:

1) Reconsider “Spankyooo” as your profile name.

2) Don’t begin your self-description with “There is nothing I cannot do.”

3) The words “naughty,” and “hygiene,” especially in the same sentence, probably are to be avoided; this is the language of  psycho-killers.

4) Try not to quote Richard Nixon.

5) If you are going to identify the scent of a woman as one of your “favorite things,” spell “scent” with a “c,”  not: “sent.”  Of course, the “sent” of a woman is an incredibly cool notion, and if it really is one of your favorite things, you must have read a bunch of Heidegger and Irigaray. Like you, I dig Theory!

Halloween couple

I have concluded that looking for an appropriate man on Match is like trying to find a needle in a haystack…while seeing the forest for the trees. Wearing oven mitts, blinders on. (Like a lot of folks, I “enjoy mixing metaphors!”) Important for me to appreciate how rich is my life without a romantic partner:

I bite Nicolle

Day of the Dead Noah and me

me writing

And then there’s always the loyal presence of my secret friend. . .Let’s call him Diedrick.

Duncan and me Like me, D enjoys some laziness, a little leash, a lot of lap. He never uses “naughty,” and “hygiene” in the same sentence, although both are concerns of his. And he “digs theory” (in theory).

Signing off, Dear Reader–I’ve got profiles to check! Please share with me a funny thing you did to meet the man/woman of your dreams–without quoting Richard Nixon.